Patrick Hawes: Quanta Qualia

Former Classic FM composer in Residence Patrick Hawes is a quintessentially English composer who prides himself on writing in the same idiom as the likes of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Delius.

The pastoral, reflective sound-world Hawes inhabits is no better demonstrated than in this, his beautiful Quanta Qualia for soprano, chorus and orchestra.

Quanta Qualia is taken from the 2004 album Blue in Blue – an instant hit in the classical charts. Within just a few weeks of its release, the piece had been voted the fastest ever new entry into the Classic FM Hall of Fame, proving that Hawes’s music clearly resonated in a powerful way. Much of it is inspired by the composer’s rural surroundings: he lives on the Norfolk coast and has often remarked that the beauty of nature spurs him on to write music.

Quanta Qualia is a sonorous, reflective and deeply moving work, with layers of laid-back strings and choral accompaniment supporting a soaring and incredibly high-pitched soprano line, sung impressively by Janet Coxwell on the original recording. Following on from the work’s success, Hawes went on to compose the piano album Towards the Light for Classic FM and was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to write the Highgrove Suite, inspired by the Prince’s own gardens.

Recommended Recording

Janet Coxwell (soprano); Conventus (choir); English Chamber Orchestra; Patrick Hawes (conductor). Black Box: BBM 1081.

Illustration: Mark Millington